Individual Services Meeting Minutes – 12/7/17

Individual Services Meeting Committee Minutes
In attendance:  Rebecca Barowsky, Craig’s Doors, Sam Cunningham, Service Net, Interfaith Shelter, Jen Glover, Lifepath, Charlie Knight, Rainfille, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Jade Lovett, Craig’s Doors, Dave Modzelewski, REACH, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Weiss, Craig’s Doors, Lynn White, Viability, Chris Zabik, DMH
Hampden County CoC Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):
  • The CoC is rolling out and expanding its on-line coordinated entry data system. The developer is this week loading in the Youth and Family VISPDATs, so the system will soon be covering all populations. Individual and youth providers are meeting this Wed to talk about how these systems coordinate, and DV and single adult systems are meeting the following Wed.
  • The CoC will be gearing up for the Point in Time Count, schedule for the last Wed. in January.
  • The state is continuing to move forward with plans for a statewide data warehouse, which would offer an excellent resource for understanding the homeless population across CoC lines and tracking progress.
Three County CoC Update (via Dave Christopolis email):
  • Coordinated entry will be launched in January, 2018.  The CE committee members are all going to participating agencies in person and training people. Case conferencing will begin weekly in each county facilitated by ServiceNet where people in the list will be reviewed based on vulnerability as well as a weekly vacancy report of COC units in order to try to find a housing match.  Three County CoC Board will be asked to vote to approve the CE policy and procedures at the Dec. board meeting.
  • Coordination for the Point in Time Count will take place over the next 6 weeks, coordinated by each county and their sub-regions.
Shelter Updates:
Interfaith Cot Shelter, Northampton: Sam reported a smooth start to the season. The shelter has just hired a Spanish speaking person which is great (roughly 1/4-1/3 guests are Spanish speakers).  Sam reported 18 turn-aways for the month of November, 12 due to no capacity and 3 due to under the influence.  (Capacity is 20 beds in Northampton; 6 over-flow in Easthampton.) When people are turned away, they are given bus passes to get to Amherst (Craig’s Doors) and other options are explored with them.  There is a new doctor with Health Care for the Homeless providing service at the shelter each Wed. night which has been very useful.
Craig’s Doors, Amherst: Rachel and Jade reported a smooth start but capacity is also an issue (capacity is 22 men, 6 women).  They turn away roughly 1 or 2 men every night and sometimes must turn away women.
There was discussion of the work afoot via the Amherst Homelessness Committee (funded by the Town of Amherst to hire a staff person who would be available to provide additional prevention and re-housing support (a la Tenancy Preservation Program or the staff person in Northampton).  This would be an extremely useful additional resource.  Conversations also continue to be underway with the Amherst Housing Authority about designating units for homeless individuals.
We discussed the issue of moving people from shelter into housing and the extreme challenges involved, including lack of affordable housing and lack of landlords’ willingness to rent to people with more challenging backgrounds. We agreed it may be useful for the Network to focus on creating opportunities to build community relationships with landlords; we will discuss this further at the next meeting.  We also agreed that tracking the housing outcomes for people entering shelter would be useful to help better identify barriers and possible solutions. We discussed how the imminent implementation of Coordinated Entry may provide some additional tools and information.  We will discuss this further as well at our Jan. and Feb. meetings.
Friends of the Homeless, Springfield (via Janice Humason, email): FOH averaged 142/night in November.  Bed availability is greater in the women’s shelter than the men’s shelter.
Network Update:  Pamela reported the good news that the Network will continue to be funded at least through FY18 thanks to DHCD’s support.  Special thanks to DHCD Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks for her support (she facilitated a contract amendment with CHD to allocate a portion of its housing stabilization funds to fund the Network).  DHCD determined that in view of the family and individual homelessness system re-procurement process coming up next fiscal year, the Network’s role as a convener around coordination and collaboration is critical.  Additional thanks to Donna Nadeau for her support as well!
Network endorsement of increasing benefits for EAEDC participants who are experiencing homelessness: Committee members unanimously agreed to endorse Mass. Coalition for the Homeless’ legislative advocacy campaign to increase Emergency Aid benefits for the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) program participants who are experiencing homelessness. They still receive a reduced grant of only $92.80 from the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance. This monthly grant is 70% lower than the $303.70 average monthly grant for individuals who have housing. It clearly is insufficient for these participants to meet even their most basic needs.  Pamela will report to MCH to add the Network as an endorser.
Hampshire REACH meeting: Jay and Dave reported Hampshire County REACH is meeting this Monday, 12/11 at 1 pm at DMH Haskell Building.  It will be an opportunity to take stock of REACH’s future in view of the imminent implementation of Coordinated Entry sub-regional meetings.  Please come if you can to be part of the discussion!
Way Finders is accepting applications for Live 155, affordable housing on Pleasant Street in Northampton.  There are 3 preferences, including homelessness, relocation (if had to move from the original Pleasant St Lodging) and DMH units.  Go to: to find out how to apply (applications to enter the lottery are due by end of January.
Loretto House has a new executive director, Michael Lewis.  There are openings (sobriety required).
Three County CoC AHAR (Annual Housing Assessment Repot) review: We took some time to review Three County’s AHAR report, an annual HUD requirement (click here ; note that the report is for all of 3 County but the form – due to HUD’s failure to update – states Berkshire County).  The group found it interesting to take a closer look at what HUD is looking at and the numbers in the 3 county area.
Next meeting date: Thursday, Jan. 4, 10:30-noon, Friends of the Homeless